How to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

1 more week…..1 more week…..1 more week! This seems to be the mantra for lots of teachers around the globe right now. It seems that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break are the most hectic and stressful time of year. The closer it gets to break, the CRAZIER our third graders have become. Crazy kids=stressed out and crazy teachers as well. Something had to be done before we turned into this…

We needed something to motivate our kids in these last few days before break when the only thing running through their head is vacation. As we were discussing options, we started talking about how we motivate our kids at the end of the year with a balloon pop activity. If their behavior is good (as a whole) for the day, they get to pop a balloon that has a slip of paper with a reward inside. Suddenly it hit us, “Why not do the same thing now but instead of balloons, we wrap up gifts?” When the students came in on Friday, this is what they saw:

Excitement was running high! Kids were whispering left and right, “What are those presents for?” “I wonder what’s inside?” “Are those for us?”

We let the suspense linger for awhile, and then we called them together and explained that there were 5 gifts on the bookcase and they had 5 days of school left before break. We also pointed out the word “GIFTS” written on the board.


We then reminded them of our classroom rules and expectations and that every time one of these was not met, they would lose a letter. But, if they had at least one letter left at the end of the day, they could open a gift!  

Of course, the first question was, “But who gets to open it???” That one was easy to answer! Our class has been introduced to Ron Clark and they know all about “Runners and Riders” (if you don’t know about this, go and read his book Move Your Bus pronto!) We also use Class Dojo so students can earn “Runner” points or lose “Rider” points. We decided that they person that gets to open the present at the end of the day would be the student who earned the most runner points that day. In case of a tie, we would just pick a number between 1 and 10 and whoever was closest would win.

We put this plan into action on Friday, and let me tell you, this has SAVED our sanity. Our students were so motivated and engaged all day long (and that’s saying a lot for a Friday!)

So-we would like to spread some love and good cheer this Christmas to you! Hopefully you can use these reward cards to set up your own gift system and help you survive the last week before break. Click on the picture below to download your free set of Holiday Reward Cards. As always, we would appreciate it if you would leave some feedback love! Merry Christmas!

Holiday Reward Cards